from The Luthier

Given: A Log of Wood; Make: A Fiddle


A block of Maple, seasoned from a tree
Fifty years growing; brought from Italy.
You smile, recalling warm Italian skies,
A dream of far Cremona in your eyes.
“Mere wood!” we say. “Mere wood!” you say again
Then lean your hand upon the faultless grain
Exultingly; “Wood, Palette, Words, or Clay,
Each shapes his music in a different way
And of that substance known and loved the best.
My choice lies here; what sculptor’s fingers rest
Who sees his marble mute and beckoning?
Give me my tools, and wood, mere wood shall sing!”

from The Luthier: poems (Reed, 1966), © Ruth Gilbert 1966, used by permission of the author. Recording from the Waiata New Zealand Poetry Sound Archive 1974

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